A look at the facial protection of netminders through the years
Growing up playing hockey as a goalie, I have taken my fair share of pucks to the head. Even with all the protection those masks provide, some of those shots still sting quite a bit. That being said, just imagine how it was back in the day before goalie masks. Like, seriously, goalies who played without masks are pretty much the most manly men I can think of. Sorry, Ron Swanson, but in comparison to a guy who stands in front of a frozen puck with nothing covering his face, you are pretty much a girl scout. Anyways, here are my top five goalie masks of all time, across the ages.
- Gary Cheevers
I’ll start back in the early days of goalie masks. I’m not going with one of the very first ones, even though there are some pretty cool ones like Jacque Plante’s original mask. I am going to start it off in the ‘60s with Gerry Cheevers. This one is pretty cool, it still has that old-style look, but what separates it from the rest is the fact that he was one of the first guys to have his mask painted. Cheevers had an iconic white mask painted with stitch marks everywhere he got hit with a puck or a stick. This one was so timeless that Steve Shields honoured it on his mask years later.
- Mike Liut
Jumping to the ‘70s, Mike Liut had a mask that could give children nightmares. Liut’s mask was reminiscent of the classic Freddy vs. Jason hockey mask, but might even be a little creepier. He had two different ones in the same style. One was black and yellow when he played for Cincinnati, but the superior one in my opinion was the all white, long chin, full fibreglass mask that he is famous for from his time with the St. Louis Blues.
- Dominik Hasek
Dominik Hasek is known for three things: 1. His wild, floppy style that involved almost entirely scrambling to make saves, which he did a lot, by the way; 2. His unbelievable skills that made him one of the best goalies, not only in his generation, but also of all time. 3. His ridiculously ugly mask. He was one of very few goalies, Dan Cloutier, and Chris Osgood are two others, to wear the short chin mask that almost looks a player’s mask. As good as he was, that mask was just ridiculously ugly, but is still one of the most memorable masks of all time.
- Curtis Joseph
With old masks, what made them cool was the different designs of the mask itself. Nowadays, style-wise, all of the masks are pretty much identical, so what sets them apart is how they are painted. One of the best-painted masks of all-time, for sure, was Curtis Joseph’s mask for the Toronto Maple Leafs. If you don’t know who Joseph is, the first thing I’ll tell you is his nickname is Cujo. From there I’m sure you can guess what the painting on his mask was. You guessed it. He had a snarling Cujo painted on his mask with the face and top fangs of the dog on the top of his head, and the bottom jaw and fangs of the dog underneath the cage. Years after Joseph retired, this is still one of the best-painted masks ever.
- Frederik Andersen/John Gibson
Last one on my list is from this season, and is actually going to two guys from the same team. While scrolling through pictures of today’s goalie masks, my eye caught Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen’s mask, with his twist on the classic movie Reservoir Dogs. The twist on Anderson’s mask? Reservoir Ducks; pretty cool. So that was definitely the front-runner until I came upon another Anaheim Ducks goalie mask belonging to John Gibson. On Gibson’s mask, he has a classic video game reference of Space Invaders tied into the duck theme. Although there are a lot of pretty sweet masks out there today, these two really stood out to me, it was just a coincidence that they were both from the same team.